Living proximity to petrochemical industries and the risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children

Environ Res. 2022 Sep;212(Pt A):113128. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.113128. Epub 2022 Mar 23.


Evidence regarding the negative neurodevelopmental effects of compound exposure to petrochemicals remains limited. We aimed to evaluate the association between exposure to petrochemical facilities and generated emissions during early life and the risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) development in children. We conducted a population-based birth cohort study using the 2004 to 2014 Taiwanese Birth Certificate Database and verified diagnoses of ADHD using the National Health Insurance Database. The level of petrochemical exposure in each participant's residential township was evaluated using the following 3 measurements: distance to the nearest petrochemical industrial plant (PIP), petrochemical exposure probability (accounting for monthly prevailing wind measurements), and monthly benzene concentrations estimated using kriging-based land-use regression models. We applied Cox proportional hazard models to evaluate the association. During the study period, 48,854 out of 1,863,963 children were diagnosed as having ADHD. The results revealed that residents of townships in close proximity to PIPs (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.20, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.16-1.23, <3 vs. ≥10 km), highly affected by petrochemical-containing prevailing winds (HR = 1.12, 95% CI: 1.08-1.16, ≥40% vs. <10%), and with high benzene concentrations (HR = 1.26, 95% CI: 1.23-1.29, ≥0.75 vs. <0.55 ppb) were consistently associated with the increased risk of ADHD development in children. The findings of the sensitivity analysis remained robust, particularly for the 2004 to 2009 birth cohort and for models accounting for a longer duration of postnatal exposure. This work provided clear evidence that living near petrochemical plants increases the risk of ADHD development in children. Further studies are warranted to confirm our findings.

Keywords: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Benzene; Petrochemical industry; Postnatal; Pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / chemically induced
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / epidemiology
  • Benzene / toxicity
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Time Factors


  • Benzene